I forgot all about the mess in the bottom of my oven.
Until my older daughter attempted to preheat it, that is.
It didn’t take long for billows of smoke to come furling from the closed door. Coughing and sputtering, we turned the oven off and threw open the windows and doors of the house.
Though the hazy air cleared within minutes, the acrid smell lingered.
We busied ourselves with the rest of our traveling preparations, and before long, the smell was gone.
When I returned inside after taking out the garbage and getting the mail, I was alarmed to realize that far from having dissipated, the smoky smell inside the house was as strong as ever.
It wasn’t gone, after all. I had just gotten used to it.
The Sins We Get Used To
I’m sure you’ve had experiences similar to the one I had in my kitchen a few days ago. When we’re immersed in a particular smell for any length of time, our brains stop processing it.
It occurs to me that we have this exact tendency when it comes to the sin in our lives.
God is so good to grant us the Holy Spirit, who is faithful to convict us when we sin. In fact, it’s one of His primary roles:
And when [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8)
Make no mistake – this conviction isn’t pleasant, but it’s a precious gift, because it’s the means by which we can repent of our sin and restore our fellowship with God.
But we don’t always see it that way, do we? We might instead suppress that conviction. And the thing about suppression is that it often becomes shunning. And when we shun it long enough, it’s silenced altogether.
So I can’t help but ask myself…
What sins have I gotten used to? Sins I don’t even notice anymore because they’ve been hanging around so long?
Here are four ways you and I can discern our spiritual blind spots and sensitize ourselves afresh to the conviction of the Holy Spirit:
1.)Spend time in prayer. Repent of your tendency to be hardhearted, and God will extend His forgiveness (I John 1:9). Ask Him to reveal to you any hidden sins. You might consider offering these biblical prayers to the Lord:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)
2.)Ask loved ones. There’s a good chance that close family members and friends are aware of sinful tendencies you might have. Humbly approach them, and ask them to help you identify hidden sins.
3.)Study Scripture. The Bible has much to say about sins of commission (sinful things we do) and sins of omission (things we ought to do but don’t). You might find a resource like this helpful; it offers a list of sins to “put off,” as well as corresponding virtues we ought to “put on.” Prayerfully consider each one, repenting of and forsaking those you’re committing.
4.)Make confession a habit. Hallelujah, you and I don’t need a human intercessor; we already have a divine One (Hebrews 7:25-26). We can go to Him at any time, asking Him to search our heart, and repenting of sin He reveals. And guess what? He forgives us. Doing this frequently is an important aspect of keeping a tender heart before the Lord.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
By the grace of God, we don’t have to sit and stew in the stench of our sin. Jesus died to save us from the penalty of sin in eternity, and from its power right now.
Will you praise Him with me for this great salvation? And let’s recommit to keeping our hearts pure before Him.